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North Korea

North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un sets sights on nuclear deterrence policies

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un reappears after an absence of over three weeks. He is seen here presenting a slide in front of members of the  Central Military Commission. The slide is blurred but one of the topics discussed during the meeting was "nuclear deterrence." Picture published 24 May, 2020.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un reappears after an absence of over three weeks. He is seen here presenting a slide in front of members of the Central Military Commission. The slide is blurred but one of the topics discussed during the meeting was "nuclear deterrence." Picture published 24 May, 2020. © KCNA/Agencies

After an absence of 22 days, North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un returned to the pages of state controlled media. Photographs appeared on the main pages featuring Kim chairing the Central Military Commission, North Korea's most powerful body.

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The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and the Rodong Sinmun (Workers News) splashed pictures on their main pages featuring Kim chairing the Central Military Commission (CMC) on Sunday.

The articles cite unnamed "policies" being set forth to "increase the nuclear war of deterrence" and "putting the strategic forces on high alert."

In a slideshow of 13 pages published by KCNA, Kim, looking puffy, is seen sitting alone at a huge desk overlooking a room full of men in uniform who are taking notes.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un reappears after an absence of over three weeks. He is seen here chairing the Central Military Commission. Picture published 24 May, 2020.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un reappears after an absence of over three weeks. He is seen here chairing the Central Military Commission. Picture published 24 May, 2020. © KCNA/Agencies

Speculation

Kim has appeared in public only sporadically in recent weeks – leading a certain amount of speculation among Korea watchers.

The leader last was shown inaugurating the Sunchon fertilizer factory on 2 May, just one day after a North-Korean defector in Seoul had claimed with “99% certainty” that Kim was “dead.

According to DailyNK, a website run by Korea watchers, Kim then stayed in a local villa Samjiyon, from 9-10 May, with a mobile sentry post with soldiers "wearing wartime gear" set up around 50 meters from the entrance to the Kim’s private road.

Every two hours there was a change of guard, while movements of the local inhabitants was restricted. On 19 May, life appeared to "return to normal."

On 20 May, it was reported that he "sent a verbal message of congratulations" to the President of Cameroon Paul Biya on the occasion of his country's national day.

Nuclear ambitions

North Korea watchers estimate that the country disposes of 20 – 30 nuclear warheads and has successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of flying up to 13,000 kilometres.

According to the Washington D.C. based Nuclear Threat Intiative, a watchdog monitoring nuclear proliferation, North Korea unilaterally withdrew from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in January 2003, is not a party to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and has conducted six increasingly sophisticated nuclear tests since 2006. 

Until now, a more engaged attitude towards arch-enemy the US, including three top-level meetings between Kim and US Presdident Donald Trump, have not lead to Pyongyang scaling down its nuclear capabilities.

 

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